Tuesday, March 25, 2014

No One

I’ve been feeling pretty lonely.  It’s been a season (a lifetime) of loneliness.

While everyone around me, it seems, is doing fine.  They have friends.  Or at least I think so.  No one’s been telling me they’re lonely too.

After a lifetime of being ‘shy’ and withdrawn, I’ve realised I’m actually quite extroverted.

My shyness is merely learned behaviour from feeling lonely, excluded, and unsure about how to behave in social situations.

I crave people contact.


While my husband can quite happily turtle-shell himself with alone time for as much as a whole week, I go insane after 24 hours.

I talk his head off.  Almost literally.

I text people, and I head out of the house.  Shopping, visiting, even going for a walk.  Anything to be out of my house.  Which is crazy really, as I do love being home, and when I am home, I like it to be peaceful and quiet.

Anyway, all this to explain to you, dear reader, that I find it really hard to get enough social interaction.

I used to plan social catch-ups two or three weeks in advance.  But small children and planning don’t work so well.  Invariably someone would be sick.  And my friends thought I was a nut-case (possibly with just cause but they weren't trying to fit things in around part-time work and extramural study!).

Now I’m back in classes, I only have about one 1-2hr slot each week in which to socialise during the day.  Evenings don’t usually work so well for people with little kids, although we occasionally have friends over for dinner, when I can muster the enthusiasm to overcome the ever-present tiredness.

You will understand why I was excited when I had an unexpected Friday available for friends this week.  It’s a self-directed study week and my mum can’t have Michael like she usually does on a Friday, which means NO STUDY!  Oh-oh, and Wahoo all at the same time! 

So I text my friends.  Invited them to come for morning tea.

One has said she might be able to come.

I felt unwanted.  I felt left out.  I felt bummed.

I moaned to Boyo.  “No one wants to come and see me!” I said.

No one?

No one?

Where did that come from?

Several someones actually do WANT to see me, but they’re busy.  Clashing preschool hours, previous engagements, illness, out of town, you name it, they’ve got it happening.

And one someone said they would TRY to come (but they couldn't in the end, boo-hoo-hoo).

But it FEELS like NO ONE.

Have you ever noticed that feeling?  Where you know that your feelings are not relaying fact to you, but, oh they are SO persuasive and a pity party feels like just the thing you want and deserve right now?  Yup, that’s me at the moment.

I want to moan and whine.  After five years of living in this place, I have probably only one relationship that is worth staying for (other than my amazing parents!).  As someone highly relational, that’s significant for me.  And it’s not exactly through lack of trying.  People tell me it will be easier, better even, once we’ve finished studying.  We’ll fit more into the ‘norm’ of 9-5 work.  But it’s all very well for them to say that.  They’re not the ones living it.  They aren’t spending six and a half years of their lives studying while trying to balance the rest of life too.

It’s just frustrating.

I probably initiate over 90% of my friendship contact.

I know people get busy.  I know they don’t necessarily need the people time as much as I do.

But it would be nice to have someone else phone, text, or invite me around from time to time.  Even if I did have to say I can’t come because I’ve got class or an assignment, or a sick child!

Oh, that’s right.  Someone did.

I had a friend text me this week to ask how I was.  Out of the blue.  Just a social text.  Wow, I can’t tell you how nice that felt!  I wonder if they have any idea?  Perhaps I should let her know how much she encouraged me, just by letting me know she was wondering how my week was going?

And remind myself that feelings are subject to exaggeration.  A LOT.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Inside Fun

What do you do on a wet day?

Our usual occupations revolve around cars, trains, or DVDs.

But one day recently I had an idea.

Let's have a picnic.

A teddy bear's picnic.

We got out a blanket and the picnic set.

Munchkin arranged all his soft toys.  He made sure they had glasses, plates, and cutlery.

I created some cardboard chocolate chip biscuits, cheese sticks, apple pieces, and (on special request) pineapple pieces.

And the teddies picnicked.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Set Backs

You know that saying, the one where people claim that if life gives you lemons you should make lemonade?
A great saying, really.  It encourages us to look beyond the 'problem' and find a silver lining somewhere.

But what about those times where there doesn't seem to be any lemonade?  There's just nothing you can think of to 'make' out of the thing you didn't want?

I've been working on my back since about August last year.  A story all in itself (only a snippet of which is here).  It's a LONG process.  It's a PAINFUL process.  It has taken a toll physically, emotionally, and more.  I've had to give up other things (like walks) in order to spend 30minutes doing exercises that make me shake, sweat, and all but burn up every 2-3 days.  It is not pretty, and it is not easy.  It has required dogged determination.

Determination which has, as is usual in life, ebbed and flowed.

Then there are the setbacks.  Just when I thought we were starting to make some small progress, I injured my back again.  Pushing a supermarket trolley.  That tells you what my back has been like.

Got extra physio and back on track.

By the end of January, I was managing 3 weeks between physio sessions but running out of ACC funding (again - can't extend it further without ruining my back again, something I have NO intention of doing!).  I felt good.  I could walk again without it feeling like a completely foreign, painful, laborious experience.  I was no longer in constant pain.  I could sleep for more than 7 hours without being woken by a seized back.  My butt and thigh muscles were not screaming at me too much from all my strengthening exercises.

Seven months of rehabilitation before I started to feel like it was REALLY TRULY WORTH IT.

Then what did I do a few weeks ago?

I pulled a muscle.


I just overextended and pulled what I think is a pec (top of the chest).  Let's just say it was painful.  Hug a pillow and have trouble sleeping at night painful.  Wanting to scream at son when he bumped me trying to have a hug painful.  My physio is very sympathetic.  She says it would have to be her least favourite injury area, having experienced it herself.

NOT what I had in mind about now.  I was heading for 4 weeks between physio.  Instead I've had tof fill in another ACC claim.  Duh.

Two weeks later, of doing no back exercises and very little else, I am finally starting to feel okay again.

But I can't see any lemonade.

The things you do when you're desperate...the special tape I wore for several weeks to help change my posture.  Loved my tape!

Just the fact that when I did my back exercises for the first time again tonight, I could only do half.  And even those were pretty paltry.  My back feels sore, because my poster has been wonky while trying to favour and protect my sore front! 

But what do you do?
Moan (which I am!)?
Give up (so not happening, although I've thought it a few times)?
Pick yourself up and carry on (you betcha)?

So it's a set back.  Life is full of them.  If I spend all my time worrying about the fact I didn't get to the mark I had set in my head, I will go insane.  Or give up on life completely.  Instead, I just have to go to plan B.  Set a new goal.  Like, maybe in the next 1-2 weeks I can get back to the level of exercises I was doing before hurting myself.  Like, DON'T overextend again, Amy!

At least I'm not right back where I started this time.  Even though sometimes it feels like it.

Oh, and I have a new goal.  I want the posture of a dancer!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Changing With the Times

I guess I’ve always walked more than your ‘average’ person.  My family used to do long bush walks, hill walks (whatever walks really) as a fun family thing on a weekend or holiday.  We walked to school, we walked to the shops, we walked to church. 

Then when Munchkin came I walked a LOT.  Having a beautiful walkway just five minutes wamble from my front door is a great incentive.  I could go for twenty minutes (about as long as I could carry him on my back – with a stop at a seat at half-time!).  I’d often go at twice a day. 
Munchkin started out in a front-pack.  This is the beach.  Believe me, it is!

Then there was the fabulous back-pack.  Seen here modelled by Daddy and Munchy, arriving at the beach.

But now that Munchkin is wanting to walk more, things are changing. 

I like to set a good walking speed.  He likes to stop and look at everything.  Really, everything.

And he just can’t walk the distances I am used to going.
How fast time has flown.  Strolling on the boardwalk now no longer needs the stroller!
Munchkin has his own pram to push these days!

Plus there’s the other changes in our lives in the past year or so.

Such as me going back to classes.  No more distance study means more driving, more classes, and less time for walks in between.

Preschool also curtails the walking.  Munchkin simply doesn’t need a walk most days after preschool.  He’s pooped.  He’s been busy running round like a mad thing, building, digging, talking, creating.  I on the other hand, have usually been in class, or stuck here at my laptop working on an assignment.  Gone are the days of regular family hour-long walks.  At least until the temperatures cool down enough during the day for Boyo.  His night-shifts mean on days we can walk together, we’re not ready to head out till it’s pretty warm.  Too warm for Boyo many days lately.  But we’ve ad-libbed a bit, taking dinner to the beach instead of a walk earlier in the day, for instance.

It’s strange though, realising that this huge part of my life-style that I really love, that I pride myself in, is all but extinct.  I even drive to the shops to buy bananas.  It’s a fifteen minute walk.  One way.  On my own.  Which means it is never that simple.  So I’m usually stopping on the way home from preschool instead in an attempt to save time and sanity.

I used to have our stroller out almost every day.  Now, I might not have it out once a week.  Strange when I got to the point where it felt strange to walk without it.

Have you noticed how things change in your lifestyle dependent on the age/stage of your family? 
Life is a constant flux of change.  Some we are ready for, some we are not.  Some that is self-imposed, but much that comes against our will.

It’s not that walking is no longer important to me.  It just doesn’t fit with everything else as well right now.  I do hope things balance out again so I can enjoy many more walks in the years ahead.
On one of several jaunts up Mauao, Mount Manganui this summer.
In the meantime, the walkway is still there.  There is still a small hand to hold from time to time (and Boyo still likes holding my hand too!), birds to listen for, small things to notice as we walk, places to hide and jump out and 'scare' each other, and many fun adventures to be had.  Walking is relaxing.  Walking is fun.  Walking is something we do together, and I do alone. Sometimes we walk because we need the exercise.  Sometimes to get to a destination.  And sometimes just because it refreshes our souls.  I hope my son grows up knowing that.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Goodbye Girls

I made a hard decision recently to sell my beloved heritage chooks.
They just weren't laying enough eggs.  The heat and humidity of Tauranga does not seem helpful for my big Australorps, and my little bantams had just stopped laying completely (well, what I actually think happened is they got a virus which made them lay shell-less eggs, but that's another story).  So there was a lot of daily work in caring for them, plus feed costs, plus also buying eggs!

So after debating for a few months, I sold them.

I felt pretty guilty and spent a few days wondering how my darlings were doing, were they being looked after properly, had I done the right thing, and so on.  But in the end, I had to let it go.  I chose to sell them.  I chose to release my rights to care for them, and give that to someone else.  The best I can do is try to make sure the prospective owner looked up to the task, and they did.  The rest is now up to them.

My parents' backyard is now strangely quiet.  It seems empty, yet it is not.  The happy sounds of clucking hens is gone, and I miss it.

However, I do NOT miss the pressure of trying to get up there 3-4 times per week to help care for the chooks.  With classes four days a week, it was getting really hard finding the time, and when I did I was usually in a rush, constantly telling my son I didn't have time to play with him, and still never finding the time to do anything much in the garden.

We were going to get some Hylines.  You know, the egg laying hybrid machines?  I even went to pick them up, but the seller had forgotten I was coming.

Then I found myself in a discussion with my mum about the workload for both of us (and my dad) and the busy year we find ourselves in.  The outcome?  We have decided not to have chooks.  We will go back to buying eggs.  It's quite a relief actually.  I miss my fluffy-bums, and find myself frequently feeling wasteful when I see a roach that I know a chook would love, or throw out the scraps from Munchkin's dinner plate thinking how much the hens loved rice.  But mostly I am enjoying it.  I have managed to do some serious gardening in the past few weeks, despite being really busy with assignments.  I'm hoping that will mean a good supply of winter veges, but I guess we will have to see. 

One of my reasons for getting chooks was to fertilise the garden.  They certainly seem to have helped with that, so we will miss that element of their work for us.  But we've started using some good fertiliser so it should still be fine.  I even got to speak to the creator of it (his name's Wally) and learnt a lot about how best to use it.  So we've got Ocean Solids and Rock Solids, both to use on the entire garden in slightly different ways as they have slightly different minerals and our garden needs a lot of input still.   Looking forward to seeing what a big difference it might make.  Our raspberries have been going crazy this year after a dose of citrus fertiliser last autumn and a good hard prune.  So here's hoping the rest of the garden does likewise!


Saturday, March 8, 2014


As of Sunday, I have cancelled my social life.

Just thought I should let you know.  In case you want to, you know, socialise this year.

For social little me, this is a big step.  A giant decision in fact.  A life-altering state.  Or at least that's how it feels.  In reality, nothing much has changed.  I had a limited social life last year while studying.  Mostly it consisted of regular contact with one friend, and very sporadic contact with a few others.  This year, things aren't really any different.  There's just less available time.  To the point I'm finding it hard to reply to text messages and am forgetting things in my diary.  Oh dear.

The issue?

I have three assignments due in the next five weeks.  I started the first one yesterday.  It's not that I didn't want to start it earlier.  But I was working on my first (rather large) assignment over the past few weeks.  Handed that in earlier this week and my brain promptly turned to mush, and disappeared.  I have this picture of myself, chasing my brain down the road, screaming madly, "Come back!  Come back!  I still need you!  You can't just leave me like this!"

Yeah.  It's rather interesting going from complete overloaded adrenaline pumping "must-finish-this-assignment-or-else" to "I-just-can't-think-or-move" in the matter of a few hours.

Yesterday I finally found what was left of my tired brain, picked myself up, and started on my next assignment.

I have realised over the past week or so that I have an issue of poor mental expectations.  I am currently a full-time student, with a part-time mindset.  Not a helpful combination.  I've been a part-time student so long that I'm really good at juggling between study, small boy, husband, household, friends, etc, etc, etc.  But that isn't working this year.  I really do have to spend most of my evenings studying.  I really can't find any more than a 1hour slot during the week to see a friend.  I'm finding that a bit hard to get used to, as I've just spent the past four years able to socialise during the day with friends who (like me) have small children.  Now I really can't. I can make the odd (i.e. once every few weeks) exception, for an hour, but have to have organised dinner and various other things first in order to fit it in.  And really, who else wants to socialise at 4:15pm on a Monday afternoon??

My wonderful husband is reminding me that I've only got this year and next year left.  Then I am finished.  And it will be worth it (we sincerely hope so!).  He's also doing all the housework, plus a list of 'extras' each week.  Including some gardening (shock!  Boyo usually avoids gardening as if it were diseased).  He's set up our emergency water (that has been waiting to be done since we moved here nearly a year ago!), he's made a card with Munchkin for an upcoming birthday, he's trying to get our printer's yellow ink running again (a marathon effort), and generally doing lots of things I would normally do. Seriously awesome!  But unfortunately I can't socialise vicariously through him.  I just have to allow my world to constrict to study, home, and pretty much not anything more at present.  I'm learning to be okay with that.  Honestly, I'm too busy to moan much about it.  I just feel a little sad that the relationships I currently have are in all likelihood not going to deepen this year and that some might in fact dwindle completely.  I do hope my friends hang around, and prove me wrong, and actually take the time to seek me out.  But I'm not expecting too much.  I know how it works. 

It is 7:10am on Saturday morning.  My son should be awake which means breakfast, getting dressed, trying to be quiet as Boyo worked all night.  It means we will try to see our friends and watch some bagpipes play downtown, before we do various errands.  I suspect I will not get time to buy a bigger pot for my poor daphne plant.  I hope I remember to ask my mum if she has any elastic that would work on some shoes I've been given.  I have some fish stock to make.  And the garden probably needs yet another water, but will most likely have to wait until tomorrow.

I'll be back.  Sometime.  Probably when I feel like moaning about my lack of social life!  Hehe.